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Il Turco in Italia

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Rossini’s IL TURCO IN ITALIA has never managed to catch on with the public. A flop at its 1814 premiere, the opera found occasional champions (Maria Callas being one) but has resisted being recognized as a misunderstood masterpiece. The current production at LA Opera may not change the opera’s status to repertory staple, but it makes a compelling case for the work’s musical quality and doesn’t shy away from the libretto’s original touches which, no doubt, have contributed to the opera’s obscurity.

The plot of the opera includes traditional devices of the time: a visiting potentate (the eponymous Turk), a faithless wife, her older husband and a pair of spurned lovers. But the surface giddiness is occasionally shot through with an unexpected whisper of melancholy. Add to that the bizarrely post-modern character of an author using the opera characters for inspiration in writing his play, and you have a truly original piece.

The production, originally conceived by Christof Loy for the Hamburg State Opera, has been carefully recreated by Alex Weidauer. Updated to what appears to be Naples in the late Fifties or early Sixties, the setting and costumes perfectly compliment the concept and enhance the story without cheapening the opera. Witty details abound and generate well-earned laughs. In a clever coup de theatre, which sets the tone for the rest of the production, the opera opens on a small trailer which begins to disgorge, clown car style, the entire chorus.

Unlike Rossini’s other operas, TURCO’s leading lady is not a coloratura mezzo, but a soprano loaded with pyrotechnic vocal technique. To play the sexy, adulterous and effervescent Fiorillla, LA Opera was lucky enough to bring back Nino Machaidze who had made her company debut in last year’s ELISIR production. Impressive as that debut was, her dark-hued, earthy Adina proved scanty preparation for her glamorous, enticing and thrillingly sung Fiorilla. Machaidze effortlessly navigates

Rossini’s treacherous passages while turning up the wattage in a take-no-prisoners star turn.

Although the role of the writer Prosdocimo doesn't provide many vocal challenges for veteran baritone Thomas Allen, he brings an innate sense of authority to the stage which provides an anchor for the surrounding froth. He is also quite funny. Simone Alberghini is suitably commanding and condescending as Selim, the Turk while Paolo Gavanelli (house debut) blusters wonderfully and makes comic hay of his wronged husband, Don Geronio.

Kate Lindsey is an agile and honey-voiced singer making her house debut as the Turk's rejected lover, Zaida. She is also a good enough actress to make sense of her character's more absurd moments. As Fiorilla's rejected toy-boy Don Narciso, Maxim Mironov (another debut) unveils a textbook Rossini tenor sound and  manages to make the character surprisingly sympathetic.

James Conlon leads the orchestra in a buoyantly energetic reading of the score, and the Chorus is as spirited and irrepressible as the production surrounding them.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion  February 19 – March 13, 2011







Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.